Mainz's Taiwo AwoniyiGetty

Liverpool to end Awoniyi's Mainz loan amid interest from Europe

Liverpool are likely to end Taiwo Awoniyi’s loan at Mainz this month, with the Nigerian striker the subject of interest from a host of European clubs.

The 22-year-old had hoped to shine when moving to Germany last summer, but has made just six appearances for the Bundesliga strugglers.

Only one of those was from the start, and Awoniyi was substituted at half-time in that game with Mainz down to 10 men away at Fortuna Dusseldorf. In fact, the forward has managed only 150 minutes in total for his club this term.

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And with Jean-Philippe Mateta, Mainz’s main striker, having returned to action just before the winter break, it is anticipated that Awoniyi will find it even harder to get regular football in the second half of the campaign.

Liverpool have the option to terminate the loan agreement, but will not do so unless a clear opportunity for game-time arises. They have not been short of interest, with Greek giants Olympiacos among those keen.

Ligue 1 trio Montpellier, Brest and Nimes are also understood to be monitoring the situation, while Turkish outfit Besiktas and La Liga duo Leganes and Real Mallorca have also made enquiries.

Liverpool intend to meet with interested parties in the coming days, but are aware that Awoniyi would ideally prefer to remain in Germany.

The Nigeria Under-23 international joined the Reds in 2015 but has since spent his time out on loan, with the club unable to secure a UK work permit.

Spells at FSV Frankfurt, NEC Nijmegen and Gent failed to work out, but Awoniyi was impressive in two stints with Belgian outfit Mouscron. He scored 10 goals in 28 appearances during the 2017-18 campaign, then returned for the second half of last season and netted 11 times in 15 games. 

Liverpool had fielded interest from across Europe last summer, and had intended to take him on their three-game tour of the USA in July, as back-up to Divock Origi and Rhian Brewster. 

But a thigh injury suffered a week before he was due to report for pre-season scuppered that plan. Awoniyi did not return to full training until mid-August, by which time Mainz had added Adam Szalai, the veteran Hungary striker, to their squad. Szalai, 32, has remained ahead in the pecking order, despite scoring just once in 14 Bundesliga appearances.

Mainz return to league action at home to Freiburg on Saturday, but the expectation at Anfield is that Awoniyi is unlikely to remain at the club until the end of the season. The question now is simply which proposal offers the best chance of regular football.